Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats


44<                                          LIFE  OF
from the circumstances connected with his journey/—-
for he had undertaken it to seek his fortunes and
provide for a beloved mother who had put her trust
in him. Hurnboldt was sitting on the deck with
Bonpland., and filled with sad reflection • the fever in
the cahins grew more and more malignant; his eye
rested on a desert, mountainous coast which the mo on
now and then gleamed on through the dark clouds.
The slightly agitated sea glowed with a weak phos-
phoric light; nothing was heard hut the monotonous
cry of some sea birds seeking the coast; a deep silence
reigned, and Hurnboldt Js soul was filled with painful
thoughts. All at once—it was about eight o'clock in
the evening—the death bell tolled mournfully \ the
sailors knelt down to say a short prayer by the corpse
of the youth., who the day before had been well and
merry; it received the catholic blessing in the night,
and was committed to the waves at sunrise.
With these mournful feelings Humboldt approached
the shores of the land which had smiled on Mm in
his boyish dreams., and to visit which, as the aim of
his life, and as the bright image of tropical nature, Ixe
had so cheerfully set sail. But fate, which had
hitherto only sent disappointments and obstacles in
Humboldt's path, to induce him to wait for better
and more fortunate opportunities, fate made the malady
with which the ship was afflicted serve to produce an
important diversion in Kis plans. The non-affected
passengers, alarmed by the malignancy of the fever,
had determined to land at the first port, and reach
their original destination, Ctiba or Mexico, by another
opportunity. They induced the captain to run into
Cumana, a port situated on the north-eastern coast of
"Venezuela, and there to laud the passengers. This
determined Humboldt also to change his route, to visit
first the scarcely known coasts of Venezuela and Paria,
and to proceed to New Spain afterwards. Hero he
could find the beautiful plants which h© had
admired in the conservatories of Vienna and SchcSn-
brunn.,, growing luxuriously awl naturally on their